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Displaced Memories

Remembering and Forgetting in Post-War Poland and Ukraine


Anna Wylegała

The book is a comparative case study of collective memory in two small communities situated on two Central-European borderlands. Despite different pre-war histories, Ukrainian Zhovkva (before 1939 Polish Żółkiew) and Polish Krzyż (before 1945 German Kreuz) were to share a common fate of many European localities, destroyed and rebuilt in a completely new shape. As a result of war, and post-war ethnic cleansing and displacement, they lost almost all of their pre-war inhabitants and were repopulated by new people. Based on more than 150 oral history interviews, the book describes the process of reconstruction of social microcosm, involving the reader in a journey through the lives of real people entangled in the dramatic historical events of the 20th century.

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Postscriptum: Symbolic Space


In researching attitudes towards the past, it is important not only to analyze the statements made by interviewees, but also to take into close consideration the space in which they are living and how they relate to that space. A brief description of how the symbolic landscapes of Krzyż and Zhovkva have changed since the 1990s was provided in the first chapter of this book. The chapters devoted to the memory of the vanished communities – the Germans, Poles and Jews – included examinations of respondents’ attitudes towards the material heritage left by those groups, as well as issues related to their commemoration. Here, I would like to conclude this thread on symbolic space by considering respondents’ attitudes to the changes that occurred as a result of shifts in the official canons of memory at the national and local levels. Above all, I am interested in attitudes to the removal of old monuments and the establishment of new ones, as well as changes in local toponyms.351

Despite the clear differences between local memories in the two towns, the two sets of residents had in common a fairly indifferent attitude to their symbolic spaces. Their statements in relation to this topic were rarely emotional. Especially in Zhovkva, it was possible to observe a significant contrast to the heated era of spontaneous transformation of the early 1990s. Then, the Lenin monument in the town center was enthusiastically dismantled. Today, respondents of all generations – except those with very patriotic views – were...

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